Stormy Daniels' lawyer: I'm disgusted

Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti says Americans should be disgusted that President Trump lied for months about a $130,000 payment made to Daniels', after Rudy Giuliani said Trump repaid his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Posted: May 4, 2018 8:40 AM
Updated: May 4, 2018 8:45 AM

President Donald Trump is shifting his story about the Stormy Daniels controversy following the revelation by his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that the President reimbursed a payment to the adult film actress by Michael Cohen.

Trump -- who previously said he was not aware of the $130,000 Cohen paid to Daniels before the 2016 election in an effort to keep her quiet about an alleged affair between her and the President -- denied on Thursday that any campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen and said he was paid via retainer. The payment has prompted complaints to the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission over potential violations of campaign finance law.

"Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA," Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.

"These agreements are very common among celebrities and people of wealth," Trump continued. "In this case it is in full force and effect and will be used in Arbitration for damages against Ms. Clifford (Daniels). The agreement was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair despite already having signed a detailed letter admitting that there was no affair. "

He added, "Prior to its violation by Ms. Clifford and her attorney, this was a private agreement. Money from the campaign, or campaign contributions, played no roll in this transaction."

Cohen had admitted to paying Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, out of his own pocket through a private LLC. Daniels has sued Trump and Cohen, saying the nondisclosure agreement is void because Trump did not sign it.

The White House has said Trump denies the alleged affair.

Legal implications

Giuliani said on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning that Cohen attempted to make the Daniels controversy "go away" with the payment -- a suggestion that the agreement was intended to help Trump's election chances.

Upon hearing that comment Thursday morning, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin referred to it as a "confession that this is a campaign finance violation because they wanted to shut her up in October of 2016."

Toobin also said the penalty for violating campaign finance laws "depends on the level of intent. Most FEC, Federal Election Commission, violations are handled civilly. But if it's willful, if it's intentional, it can be handled criminally."

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, told CNN's "New Day" on Thursday that he was "speechless" and "stunned" after hearing Giuliani's revelation about the reimbursement. He suggested that there would be a violation of campaign finance laws if Trump and Cohen structured the payment "in a way to avoid detection or in an effort to make it appear to be something that it was not, namely, a retainer payment as opposed to $130,000 reimbursement, that may involve money laundering depending on how it was handled."

"There also may be tax issues relating to the deductibility of those expenses," he continued. "If they were deducted as legal expenses for tax purposes when in reality it had nothing to do with legal services rendered but instead was the reimbursement of the $130,000, that, too, is going to be a problem."

In an interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Avenatti said he believed Giuliani was trying to get in front of the information inevitably coming out.

"I absolutely believe that," Avenatti said. "I believe that this was an attempt by Giuliani to hang a lantern on this and to disclose it on terms that he believed to be friendly to the President and friendly to him."

But Bradley Smith, a former FEC chairman, told CNN that he doesn't believe the payment constitutes a campaign finance violation.

"I don't think it matters whether Trump paid Cohen back or not," Smith said, adding, "The standard is not: If it's related to the campaign, it's a campaign expenditure. The standard is: It's a campaign expenditure if it is an obligation that would not exist were it not for the campaign."

Giuliani says Cohen, Trump did not discuss payment during election

Giuliani went into further detail in another interview Thursday morning about the extent to which the President was involved with the transaction, suggesting on Fox Business Network that Cohen did not communicate with Trump about the payment at the time he made it to Daniels and that Trump later reimbursed the money after the presidential election was over.

"The money was paid by Michael Cohen in October of 2016. Of course he didn't talk to the presidential candidate then because the man wouldn't have even remembered. I wouldn't remember if you talked to me then. I was with him 24 hours a day," Giuliani said.

"After it was over, there was the opportunity to reimburse," he added, saying, "the President reimbursed him out of non-campaign, non-campaign contribution money, private money, his money, and he did it over a course of 2017. It was mixed in with a couple of other things that have nothing to do with them or anybody else, just things that a lawyer would take care of for his client."

But Giuliani also suggested that Trump may have forgotten about the transaction at some point.

"How many times do you have to go back to your checkbook to see, you know, you forget," he said. "Did I make that contribution, didn't I make it, was it $2,000, $5,000, did I take it from this account or that account?"

He went on to say, "If you have to speak off the cuff, you're going to say, 'well, I did it from here, I did it from there.' Now we have the records, we can see exactly what it was. Now they should drop this."

Shifting explanations

This week's revelations have, at a minimum, deepened a political controversy for Trump as explanations over the Daniels controversy continue to evolve.

Just weeks before the 2016 election, Cohen created a private LLC to pay Daniels following an alleged July 2006 encounter with Trump, The Wall Street Journal reported in January.

In February, Cohen said in a statement that he used his own "personal funds" to facilitate the payment to Daniels.

"Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly," Cohen said at the time.

But Giuliani contradicted that statement on Thursday, telling "Fox & Friends" that Cohen was "definitely reimbursed." He added that he believed Cohen was "trying to help" the Trump family and doing his job as a lawyer.

Trump said last month that he didn't know about the payment and deferred questions about the matter to Cohen. Giuliani told "Fox & Friends" that Trump learned the details about the payment "10 days ago."

The President has since distanced himself from Cohen, who was formerly a top confidant, telling Fox News last week that Cohen had overseen "a tiny, tiny little fraction" of his legal work.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Robinson
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 30°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 28°
Paris
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 25°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 27°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 28°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 28°
Cloudy, Breezy Tuesday
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

ISU SIU MBB

Image

Big Changes for Deming and West Vigo Elementary coming

Image

TYLER GRAUER ALL AMERICAN

Image

ISU EVANSVILLE VOLLEYBALL

Image

American Red Cross is in need of blood donations

Image

Funds available to help boost students morale

Image

Illinois Launches COVID-19 Vaccination Website

Image

Students are stepping up to help fill the shortage of medical professionals in Indiana

Image

Illinois police chief resigns after arrest

Image

Monday Night: Showers, cool. Low: 34

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1101819

Reported Deaths: 20680
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4449279243
DuPage708901168
Will59768888
Lake54700921
Kane47171705
Winnebago26766415
Madison25299477
St. Clair22976450
McHenry22214258
Champaign15867106
Peoria15466251
Sangamon14918242
McLean13564171
Tazewell12296251
Rock Island12195308
Kankakee11720187
Kendall1001681
LaSalle9791250
Macon8982182
Vermilion7784117
DeKalb767894
Adams7537129
Williamson6358119
Boone565679
Whiteside5438175
Clinton517486
Coles479085
Knox4706147
Ogle470072
Grundy453154
Effingham437372
Jackson430270
Henry410277
Marion4081113
Macoupin400996
Franklin393771
Randolph380273
Livingston379270
Monroe367371
Stephenson363977
Jefferson3557105
Woodford334470
Morgan332193
Logan316959
Montgomery315954
Lee314276
Bureau305685
Christian305678
Fayette296753
Perry279262
Fulton262549
Iroquois262458
Jersey230161
Lawrence220730
McDonough219351
Saline208754
Douglas204534
Union203632
Shelby202235
Crawford183135
Cass179431
Bond178224
Warren160344
Pike160048
Richland157146
Hancock155035
Wayne154743
Clark152934
Jo Daviess152325
Washington149326
Edgar149253
Carroll146833
Moultrie141528
Ford140651
White140232
Clay134040
Greene128243
Johnson125615
Wabash121815
Mason119541
Piatt119518
De Witt119028
Mercer118730
Cumberland111727
Massac107233
Jasper106115
Menard91610
Hamilton73117
Marshall70515
Schuyler64617
Pulaski6253
Brown62211
Stark49920
Edwards4789
Henderson46616
Calhoun4504
Scott4081
Alexander4047
Gallatin3974
Putnam3572
Hardin3128
Pope2573
Unassigned1040
Out of IL320

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 611039

Reported Deaths: 9716
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion844351336
Lake45508685
Allen32891552
Hamilton29546315
St. Joseph27449381
Elkhart24440345
Vanderburgh19513250
Tippecanoe18043140
Johnson15140295
Porter14865169
Hendricks14440248
Madison11009222
Vigo10769181
Clark10731144
Monroe9424113
Delaware9152134
LaPorte9103164
Howard8268144
Kosciusko808983
Warrick676599
Hancock6741104
Bartholomew6523100
Floyd6469110
Wayne6157162
Grant6011116
Dubois556980
Boone554668
Morgan545795
Henry509764
Marshall505384
Cass485264
Dearborn483245
Noble474059
Jackson426747
Shelby419581
Lawrence392980
Clinton374243
Gibson372559
Harrison350945
DeKalb348264
Montgomery346554
Knox335839
Miami323044
Steuben314545
Whitley309726
Wabash304551
Adams302136
Ripley300046
Putnam297850
Huntington293159
Jasper290534
White274143
Daviess271274
Jefferson264738
Decatur248983
Fayette247848
Greene241162
Posey240328
Wells236451
LaGrange229662
Scott225739
Clay223532
Randolph214948
Jennings199336
Sullivan192933
Spencer192422
Washington187523
Fountain184627
Starke175643
Jay168223
Owen166837
Fulton164230
Orange160835
Carroll159115
Rush155818
Perry155229
Vermillion149334
Franklin149033
Tipton133033
Parke13088
Pike118226
Blackford111422
Pulaski97337
Newton91721
Brown88235
Benton86910
Crawford8069
Martin74413
Warren6857
Switzerland6665
Union6287
Ohio4957
Unassigned0376